Relationships between bands

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Repman, May 11, 2017.

  1. Repman

    Repman New Member

    As a recent returner and having only played in concert bands in my youth, I was wondering how bands get on with each other. I'm West Yorkshire based so there are a lot of geographically close bands.
    is there much player movement from one band to say a higher section band if someone wants to push themselves or to a lower or non contesting band if someone is looking to take it easier. does it ever cause ill feeling when a player switches bands? what is everyone else's experience?
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  2. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    I play in non-contesting bands, in my experience some of those are significantly better than others and all have some players who do or did contest elsewhere. Bands like to hold onto their players, and particularly so the stars who could move to play at a higher level, but I've never seem any bother due to a player following ambition. There has been no bother (seen) either when players whose skills are reduced or who are in rapidly rising bands voluntarily step aside or leave to make space for better talent. I have seen, or rather know of, players pushed out of rapidly rising bands because they are no longer good enough and mostly the individuals concerned don't seem too fussed, content to move on when the standard demanded is more than they can give. Edit. Conversely I have seen, or rather know of, players being pushed out of bands because an MD wants to bring in some of his/her friends or stars from another band - I have strong views about that practice and they're not printable.

    I think that players leaving a failing band because it is failing does lead to ill feeling, in a way such a move is a betrayal of loyalty and perhaps shows a lack of conviction to the original band and the 'friends' still in it. Edit. I haven't seen any poaching of (good) players from one band to another but understandably that does cause ill feeling as the departed from Band's chances of contest success are diminished, robbed even, by the receiving band.

    If you feel that you're now under-achieving and want to try a higher section Band then go for it, try not to leave your old band in the lurch though and offer to dep for them any time they ask. Of course there is, IMHO, more to banding than which section you're in and you might not be as happy in another band.

    Good luck what ever you decide.
    Last edited: May 13, 2017
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  3. Repman

    Repman New Member

    I've already discovered that there's more to banding than the section. I have no plans to leave my current non contesting band as they are a great crowd. There has been talk of a return to contesting and as things stand I would much prefer to stay where I am and see how far we can go together.
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  4. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    It depends on the individual band and on the individual bands around it that make up the local scene. And on the personality of the player moving. Each move is its own unique circumstance, and a manoeuvre that would in one place and with one set of personalities be accomplished with a cheery wave and best wishes might in a different place and with different people lead to a deep-seated and long-lasting resentment.

    But being a pleasant person wishing well to the band you leave behind will keep the vast majority of situations happy. Almost anyone will understand and applaud the motivation of wanting to push yourself more.

    From the band's perspective, it's important to avoid opposing sins - 1) Don't be the grouchy band of limited ability that furiously resents losing their top talent to a stronger group that will take them further; 2) Don't be the supercilious band of higher ability that is constantly seeking to harvest the best players from the other bands around it. Be chill, be nice to your players, and try to seek new players in morally clear ways. In other words, be a group that makes other groups glad to have you as a neighbour, and with which your members feel proud to be associated.
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  5. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    Reminds me of a sign I saw once..."Everyone in this band brings happiness; some when they join, others when they leave". ;)
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  6. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    And how true that is of so many life situations, 4C!! :D

    I remember one base I was stationed at in the RAF. None of us realised how good our Chief Technician was at keeping the place running like a well-oiled machine, until he left, and was replaced by a Flight Sergeant who was filled with ambition for promotion . . . but who knew as much about man management as I know about petit point embroidery . . .

    Was I ever glad when I got a posting to Malta a few months later!!
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  7. nethers

    nethers Active Member

    Don't want to hijack this thread and will start another if this turns in to a debate, but what is the difference in actions between bands with a 'morally clear' approach to attracting talented players and those 'poaching'? I have always thought this to be a very vague thing, but a lot of people seem to be very firm, so interested to understand perspectives.
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  8. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    To my mind poaching is were a band, whether casually or formally, approaches an individual with a view to them moving bands. 'Morally clear' seems to be one of those terms that implies a set of values and actions rather than describes them, well to me that's the case. I interpret 'morally clear' as not poaching or engaging in (other) practices considered immoral.

    So, though there might be 'grey' areas, it all depends on who approaches who and maybe in what way too. A band, or member of, directly or indirectly approaching or in some way targeting any individual player is poaching whereas a player approaching a band is not (IMHO). In employment terms it's similar to the differences between advertising a vacancy which invites applicants (anybody could choose whether to respond) and 'head hunting' (a direct offer to a targeted individual).
    Last edited: May 15, 2017
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  9. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    When a player is encouraged to join a different band we would do well to not take it personally, however difficult that is.
    No one 'owns' players and if an approach from another band gives a player new opportunities then be pleased for them. Falling out is no good for anyone. Sincerely congratulate them on being a player that others want and thank them for their service. Leave the door open for them to return (vacancies dependent). You've probably had a number of years of mutual enjoyment from their membership, don't make the lasting memory a bad one.
  10. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    I do take and accept your several points, all of them good I think. Life isn't always black and white but rather mostly shades of grey. There is a case to be made for some forms of, what still is, poaching to be considered acceptable; what I tried to do was make a distinction between behaviours. Apparently a tiny amount of some poisons (say warfarin ) can be good for you but higher amounts can kill. Perhaps poaching is similar in that small amounts can have some benefits?
  11. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    Bands wanting to attract players from other bands won't stop. The means that are deployed are not within our control, so whether we believe they have behaved acceptably is really of no consequence.
    It's how we react that matters. We will naturally feel angry, feel the need to retaliate, feel betrayed etc. Letting these feelings control how we outwardly respond will make the situation worse. Our anger may be towards the 'poaching' band, but it will be the player / colleague / friend that is most affected by how we deal with the situation. I expect that in all but very exceptional cases, we'd want the player to consider us first when looking to move band next time; this will be much less likely if they feel that they left on bad terms.
  12. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    I think that we could say the same of any anti-social act, but society doesn't and (large numbers of) once accepted behaviours have been changed as a result.

    The above very much follows my line of thought.
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  13. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    You're right to say that it's a vague phrase that I used. That's because there isn't a clear line. Or rather, in parallel with the 'every move has its own issues' post I made above, every recruitment is its own situation, framed by the personalities of player, recruiter, general local acceptance of such things, and (if applicable) band that they are leaving. There usually is a clear line in any given situation, but it's not quite the same clear line as in any other situation.

    For generalities:
    1) Unattached player approaches you to join - perfect.
    2) You approach unattached player to join - probably perfect, but some may for their own reasons resent being approached. A very small risk though.
    3) Attached player approaches you to join - you're definitely in the clear here, but be prepared to field misunderstandings - what if the player doesn't make it clear to their outgoing band that it was their initiative? What if, feeling awkward in front of their old band, they pretend that they were approached by you first?
    4) You approach attached player to join - ah, and here's the minefield...
    - There's a continuum between (3) and (4) - has the player been hinting to you that they are ready for a change? Have they been going out of their way to make themselves available to you for depping? Some people will not ask, but will wait to be asked, even when it is completely transparent that they want to move.
    - Are they 'too good' a player for their current band, their development stifled by the environment? If so, particularly if they are at the peak age of rapidity of development (between 15 and 25 say), the odds are good for everyone in the old band recognising that the move makes sense for the player. Although conversely, a player that has been 'produced' by the outgoing band's youth scheme may attract more rather than less resentment from the band management, who may see them as their asset. But even if it is a long-established older player whose standard plateaued at a higher level than the old band years before, the odds are still decent that the move will be seen in a positive light.
    - Do you make a habit of recruiting from other bands? If your band has a name for 'poaching', be prepared to see even fair moves treated with suspicion and gossiped about.
    - How does the scene in your local area work? Is it generally accepted practice for banding allegiances to be treated in a fluid fashion, or will you be poking tradition in the eye? In practice, everywhere is somewhere in between these two extremes, but attitudes do differ from place to place.
    - How hard will the other band be hit by the loss of this player? Will their removal cripple a section? Will other players likely depart because they've gone?

    In my own usage, I deal with (1), (2), and (3) happily - though in (3) I always take care to sound out attitudes from the outgoing band, to make sure we aren't accidentally getting a bad name - I'll do things like make myself available to them for playing favours, if time permits. Use the contact to build a relationship rather than break one.
    (4) I am very wary about employing, and I can't think of the last time I invited someone playing with another band to join us without them having already expressed an interest in doing so. I'll say cheerily "You know we have a <...> vacancy at the moment", but I'll leave it at that, with the ball in their court if they wish to serve.

    There are bands that make a different choice, for their own reasons of personal ambition, flavour of the local scene, etc. Those that act with extreme incaution in approaching players, even those that attempt to poison the player against their current band, not caring if their name blackens in the process, simply banking on their reputation to produce a steady inward flow of players. This is in the long run only a sustainable model if you are one of the very best, if you have a powerful youth scheme supplying regular internal new talent, or if such behaviour is the generally accepted norm in your area. If you don't fulfil one of these criteria, being such a band results in your alienation from the local scene, and, sooner or later, some kind of player numbers catastrophe.
    Last edited: May 15, 2017
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  14. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    I haven't experienced behaviour that I'd regard as anti-social and I'm struggling to imagine the same. What examples can help me understand?

    Edit - I've just seen MoominDave's post which gives me insight. I understand the 4 scenarios given and agree with implications stated for each. What I'm surprised at is the seriousness placed on number 4. This is a hobby after all; we are all at liberty to choose who we play for.

    It also seems to me that without number 4, many of us wouldn't realise our full potential. It may take another person (maybe a visiting player or our teacher) to helps us realise that moving to their band could expand our playing as well as benefitting their band.

    If the practice of headhunting ceased, it seems that brass banding standards across the board would reduce.
    Last edited: May 15, 2017
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  15. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    I believe that the above was in response to my comment:" we could say the same of any anti-social act, but society doesn't and (large numbers of) once accepted behaviours have been changed as a result". If so then perhaps the following examples and comment might help.

    I don't think that the female members of my family welcome cat calls and wolf whistles and they're pleased that such acts are in decline due to social change. I walk in my local park and find less 'dog muck' on the ground as most folks now pick up after their dog due to changes in social attitudes. After several deaths caused by reckless driving the speed limit on the road linking my rural community to our neighbouring City was reduced; in this case the law has clearly forced a change as the norm now is to drive safely at 50 mph whereas as a younger man I used to race along it somewhat more quickly - successfully managing the risks that some others failed to do.

    Society can't control individual acts but it can influence what is considered normal behaviour and normal behaviour is what people typically choose to adopt.

    Off to read Moomin's comments now - good to see him back and hopefully recovered too.
    Last edited: May 17, 2017
  16. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    It's all about making sure that the 'feeder' band isn't left struggling and isn't left seething. Brass bands, particularly lower down the pyramid, tend to struggle to fill vacancies, and it is all too easy to unthinkingly bequeath other people problems in this. It never goes down badly to be able to suggest to them other free players that they might like to ask to join them.

    To my mind, there is a great deal of moral difference between the following two situations:
    - Fixer from band seeking player attends another bands rehearsal in order to scout out players. They then issue a direct invite to a player of that other band.
    - Fixer from band seeking player invites a member of another band to dep, in the knowledge that they are filling in for a vacancy. They thank them for their efforts, and compliment them on their playing standard, "which is certainly good enough for us", or somesuch phrasing. The player is left with the implication that if they want it, there is a seat for them, but that there's no expectation of an application from them. They go away from a pleasant and enriching experience happy in the knowledge that they were appreciated. If they want to apply, then they initiate the contact to do so.

    The first situation is a blunt thing, one that puts pressure on the player to answer. The second is a gentle thing, something that isn't even an approach - it lets the player know that it is possible for them to make an approach.

    There are important further nuances - for example, the question of persistence. It shows a distinct lack of human polish to be persistent in enquiring when the answer is no. In fact, most of the difference between a well-handled and a poorly-handled player approach lies in the degree of social tact taken.

    Thanks, 2T - I'm feeling much more human now! Still no trombone playing for a couple of weeks though.
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  17. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    I meant in the context of the subject.
  18. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    How often does the former situation take place? Pretty rare I expect.
  19. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    You reckon? I've seen it happen a fair few times.

    But I lay out two ends of a continuum for you here. Reality tends to happen on the spectrum in between. And there are other attributes that can respectively inflame and soothe the interaction - for example the point above of persistence in the face of disinterest.
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  20. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Just to stir the pot a bit, what if the player concerned is playing in (for example) the third section and genuinely doesn't realise how could they are (or could be). I've known talented players feel themselves 'nowhere near good enough' for a higher section band despite having some ambition towards personal development - it takes an approach from a better band for them to even contemplate the possibility that they could be good enough.

    Isn't there an argument to be made for a certain amount of 'talent-spotting'? Suggesting to a player that they would prosper in a better band, benefiting from a technical and musical challenge that their current situation doesn't offer them?

    By the way, just for the record, it's my opinion that "poaching" in the sense that many people seem to see it doesn't exist. Happy players who are getting the personal, social and musical fulfilment that they want from their hobby don't move bands. If a player has left your band it's because they believe they can can achieve some part of that personal, social or musical fulfilment better elsewhere. Most commonly that would be a lower section player leaving to join a top section band, in my experience, allowing them performance opportunities that the "losing" band can't or won't offer. Sometimes it's because the player doesn't like the conductor, or their section leader, or someone else at the "losing" band. Sometimes it's because they want an easier life. But NOBODY moves band simply because they've been asked to move...
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